Can acupuncture help anxiety and panic attacks?

From shortness of breath and variations in heart rate, to full blown and debilitating panic attacks, headaches, pain and insomnia,  anxiety is a complex condition, which is usually treated by medication.

According to the evidence based research, acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety. In 2017, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, co-authored by Dr John McDonald, PhD and Dr Stephen Janz 1, was published, providing an up-to-date comparative review of the clinical and scientific evidence for acupuncture treatment for anxiety. Which find that acupuncture is moderately effective in treating anxiety according to high level evidence.2. In 2016, a systematic review with over 400 randomised patients that concluded that ‘the effects from acupuncture for treating anxiety have been shown to be significant as compared to conventional treatments.3. Other studies, which included 120 randomized patients, found that acupuncture had a good effect on reducing anxiety and depression compared to conventional treatment involving pharmalogical approaches and psychotherapy, with over twice the reduction in symptoms.4.

More recent study shows acupuncture is more effective than pharmacotherapy and comparable to talking therapy, making it a helpful referral choice.


1.McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review. Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd. 2017.

2. Bazzan AJ, Zabrecky G, Monti DA, Newberg AB. Current evidence regarding the management of mood and anxiety disorders using complementary and alternative medicine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2014;14:411- 23.

3. Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS. Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review. Rev Bras Enferm. 2016 Jun;69(3):602-9.

4. Arvidsdotter, T., Marklund, B., & Taft, C. (2013). Effects of an integrative treatment, therapeutic acupuncture and conventional treatment in alleviating psychological distress in primary care patients–a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 13(1), 308.

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